Book Review #11: The Madness Underneath

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I picked up Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star on a whim. I’d read some of her slightly lighter fare, and since I was on a paranormal/books taking place in Europe kick at that point, I thought I’d give it a shot. Though I enjoyed the majority of the book, it was the ending that made my eyes bug out, that had me ranting to one of my roommates while she attempted to make herself dinner.

Since then, I’ve been looking forward to The Madness Underneath. With a title like that, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Possibly some insane ghosts, or maybe insanity on the narrator’s part due to the aftermath of Star’s events. What I ended up finding was a mixture of neither and both.

Rory spends much of the story trying to cope with the results of the first book’s revelation, and trying to figure out what her new ‘normal’ is now that whatever old normal she’d known is gone. As the summary forewarns, she ends up back with the ghost-hunting shades when new killings threaten the London neighborhood near her school.

And that’s about where the summary ends. I spent most of the book waiting to find out how these new ghosts were appearing and what their motives were, and though some of the answers were hinted at or implied, I have a feeling we’re in for plenty more shockers when book three comes out.

There’s not too much I can say about the two biggest twists of the story, if only because I’m not a spoilery sort of person. What I can say is that I had a hunch about one—although not how bad things would eventually become—and absolutely didn’t see the other coming at all.

If the end of Star led to incoherent vocalizations, then the end of Madness stunned me speechless. Part of me had been waiting for something to happen, but the other part had no idea who would be victimized or how it would go.

The Madness Underneath in no way suffers from ‘middle book syndrome.’ As soon as I turned the last page, I wished the third one would appear on my desk. In lieu of spoilers, what I will say is this: If you thought the Ripper ghost was terrifying, just wait until these villains show themselves. I’d recommend this, but I also recommend you read it in a crowded place.

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